3 trends hospital marketers wish would go away

To craft successful campaigns, healthcare marketers must stay on top of changing industry trends, some of which they would like to see disappear. Here, three health system marketing leaders share the marketing trends they wish would go away.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and style.

Larry Daly. Director of Planning and Business Development and Ambulatory Network Operations at Covenant HealthCare (Saginaw, Mich.): While I admire entrepreneurs who craft ways to make themselves successful and popular, I am just not sold on the trend to use "social influencers" to provide healthcare content. Maybe I am old school, but I prefer knowledgeable health professionals to influence patients and the public about important health information. I guess I just need to keep finding creative ways to get the extraordinary physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses and other health professions I work with a bunch of followers.

Kendra Calhoun. Senior Vice President of Strategic Marketing, Communications and Public Relations at Avera Health (Sioux Falls, S.D.): Just when all of us are focusing on the digital front door, I'd like to add that we need to equally focus on the digital back door. We have to think beyond episodes of care to remain relevant in the "life space" of the patient.

As we increasingly use journey-mapping to improve patient-consumer experiences and build loyalty, why would we end the "journey" with the episode of care? Why wouldn't we create relevancy for our health systems by sending patient-consumers back into their "life space" with a relevant journey? This strategy could be that a total joint patient completes their joint replacement experience with a pre-diabetic journey, or a new mom goes home added to a postpartum journey. Today, brand is experience and experience is brand.

Brian Deffaa. Chief Marketing Officer at LifeBridge Health (Baltimore): The funnel and the emphasis on new customer acquisition. Now it's easy and de rigueur to beat up on the funnel as old and hackneyed, but as any marketing leader who believes in their team and organization will tell you, metrics and return on investment are a marketer's key tools in delivering impact. The problem lies not really with the funnel itself, but the emphasis on the transactional nature of a majority of marketing efforts. 

Because this area of marketing is so linear, it's easy to quantify results. But this thinking misses the point. We have also learned that it's much easier (and cheaper) to keep the customers you have instead of acquiring new ones, which begs the question: Why don't our investments reflect this strategy? Slowly across our industry and others, we're seeing the recognition that it's no longer enough to acquire, but rather we must have the support and processes in place to "delight." With as many options for care that are emerging, we must treat the relationship beyond the funnel as the one that really matters.

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